The Way We Work
June 16, 2009 by Tamara Rice

Welcome to Work From Home Tuesday. At oDesk headquarters in Menlo Park, California, every Tuesday is a WFHT. So what better way to celebrate remote working than discussing some ways to do it well?

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Show your buyers and clients the same respect you would show a prospective employer.

It's tempting, when you are your own boss, to forget that someone else still signs your paychecks. When a prospective buyer/client  discusses a possible project with you, send a thank you e-mail later--just as you would after a job interview. Remember meetings, take notes when they are talking, and be appreciative of their business. You aren't the only one out there who can do the job, so it's up to you to make yourself , your personality, and your work ethic indispensable.

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Communicate often, clearly, and quickly.

Return e-mails within 24 hours, sooner if you can, unless you have an outgoing message explaining your absence. If you have a question about the project, don't let it go unanswered because an e-mail wasn't returned - pick up the phone! A lot of us who work from home hate the telephone, but it's a necessary evil. Don't ever be guilty of avoiding your buyer/client, but don't take up their time either. (Hint: Follow the e-mail advice Josh gives here.)

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Be very aware of your agreements regarding time frames and cost.

If you work on a per-project or fixed-price basis, things can sometimes get sticky. You might agree to a certain price, then discover it is three times as much work as was originally disclosed to you. First of all, if you can afford to finish as planned, do it. Your reputation is on the line. However, let the buyer know that in the future, you'll need another arrangement. (Also, you'll know better with that client the next time around.) If you can't do it, stop and explain yourself politely. Let them decide whether they should pay you more or give the project to someone else. Ditto for the deadline. If it's impossible, speak up sooner, not later.

[By the way, here at oDesk, most providers of services are paid hourly, with their time and screenshots logged online for clients to see and verify. There is no need to invoice, and you are guaranteed payment for hours worked. Check it out.]

WFHT Recommended Reading

"Freelance Writers Should Watch Their Manners" from Daily Freelance Writing Tips
"Freelance Communication" from Wake Up Later
"An Ounce of Professionalism" from Freelance Switch
"How to Successfully Work With People Long Distance" from Freelance Folder
"How to Build a Strong Relationship With Your Customers" from Freelance Directory

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Much like a divorced marriage counselor, my ability to dish out advice is not an indicator of my ability to implement it. However, having worked from home for over a decade, I've learned what works and what just creates more work.

- Tamara

Tamara Rice

Freelance Writer and Editor

Tamara Rice is one of several freelance writers on the oDesk Blog team. She joined the oDesk marketplace in 2009, after more than six years on staff at an award-winning national magazine.